Due to an often height growth coupled with the large amount of calories burned by playing basketball and college aged male basketball players often struggle to gain and maintain weight. These males are always fighting to gain weight on their often lanky frames allowing them to be stronger and more solid. When done correctly the men should be able to gain mass by lifting and eating six healthy high-caloric meals throughout the day. However, this can be difficult when you do not have the resources.
Before last Tuesday, NCAA athletes were allowed to provide 3 meals a day or a stipend to pay for meals. A new possible initiative would allow Division I schools to provide unlimited meals and snacks to all athletes, including walk-ons. This whole debate on food funding has been a discussion for a good amount of time; however it was not until Shabazz Napier was interviewed in the locker room after a March Madness game did it receive mainstream attention.
“I just feel like a student-athlete, and sometimes, like I said, there’s hungry nights and I’m not able to eat and I still got to play up to my capabilities. … When you see your jersey getting sold — it may not have your last name on it — but when you see your jersey getting sold and things like that, you feel like you want something in return.
Napier is a six foot one inch college senior who plays on the UNCONN Huskies basketball team, which won the 2014 March Madness Tournament. Shabazz was also the MVP of the tournament. At this same time that Napier was talking about not having “enough money to get food” while playing basketball on one of the biggest college stages. The NCAA hauled in around $770 million in revenue from the NCAA tournament due to their contract with CBS and Turner Sports they signed in 2010. Taking the Marxist approach on sports it is easy to see the argument about how “athletes forfeit their control over their labor power and are forced to maximize productivity” (Giulianotti, 2005:30). It is really hard to not start to see a trend where these talented young athletes are being manipulated and large corporations gain power and money. In return these athletes get worn down mentally, physically, and emotionally. In the Marxist approach the college athletes would be the proletariat and the NCAA, Sponsors (Nike, Adidas, etc.), and TV corporations can be seen as the bourgeois.
Napier choice to speak out against the NCAA at such a moment of success which was a smart move, showing that student athletes are more than just brainwashed puppets. The rise of social media has given this generation a voice and a place to express themselves more than ever before. If student athletes want change they must use their opportunities to speak out for their rights as athletes and human beings. While there is still ways to go before the NCAA policy is perfect, this change in the policy is a step forward to having student athletes rights represented and heard.